Kenya: Romanian ambassador recalled after comparing African diplomats to monkey

Francis Akhalbey June 12, 2023
Ambassador Dragos Tigau reportedly compared African diplomats to a monkey -- Photo: Dragos Viorel Tigau (Facebook)

Romania’s ambassador to Kenya was recalled to his home country after he compared African diplomats to a monkey at a meeting he was chairing in the East African nation, CNN reported. Ambassador Dragos Tigau is said to have made the comparison when a monkey was spotted at the window of the conference room where the meeting was taking place.

“The African Group has joined us,” Tigau, who later rendered an apology for his comments,  reportedly said after the monkey appeared. In the wake of the incident, African diplomats condemned Tigau for his comments and threatened to boycott meetings he was to attend.

“The African Group would like to condemn in strongest terms possible, the insulting, racist and degrading utterances,” Chol Ajongo, South Sudan’s ambassador to Kenya, said in a statement.

The European nation’s deputy ambassador is said to have “reprimanded” Tigau for his comments. However, the recalled diplomat ultimately apologized “after some hesitation”, a document obtained by the news outlet revealed. 

Tigau also sent two apology letters after he was condemned for his comments. In one of the letters, Tigau claimed he made the comparison during “a long, heated and highly debated meeting”, adding that he was trying to relax “the atmosphere.” The European diplomat, however, later took out that claim.

A source with ties to Tigau also told CNN that the Romanian diplomat “doesn’t have any racist inclinations” and was trying to be funny when he made those comments. The diplomatic source also claimed that “if a bird, a lizard, or a snake came out, I’m sure he would have said the same thing.”

Though the incident happened in April, Romania’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it became aware of Tigau’s comments on June 8. The ministry also said it hoped Tigau’s behavior wouldn’t have a negative impact on the European nation’s “deep relations” with countries in Africa.

“The Romanian MFA deeply regrets this situation, conveys its apologies to all those affected, and strongly rejects and condemns all behaviors and attitudes incompatible with mutual respect,” the ministry said.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: June 12, 2023

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